Greek Word: Ἰησοῦς
English Words used in KJV:
of Hebrew origin [<H3091> (Yehowshuwa`)]; Jesus (i.e. Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites :- Jesus.
Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
Jesus Christ [jzəss krīst]
Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Jesus Christ (between 8 and 4 bc-ad 29?), the central figure of Christianity, born in Bethlehem in Judea. The chronology of the Christian era is reckoned from a 6th-century dating of the year of his birth, which is now recognized as being from four to eight years in error. Christians traditionally regard Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, and as having been divinely conceived by Mary, the wife of Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. The name Jesus is derived from a Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua, or in full Yehoshuah (Yahweh is deliverance). The title Christ is derived from the Greek christos, a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (anointed one), or Messiah. “Christ” was used by Jesus' early followers, who regarded him as the promised deliverer of Israel and later was made part of Jesus' proper name by the church, which regards him as the redeemer of all humanity.
The principal sources of information concerning Jesus' life are the Gospels, written in the latter half of the 1st century as the generation that had known Jesus firsthand began to die. The Epistles of Saint Paul and the Acts of the Apostles also contain information about Jesus. The scantiness of additional source material and the theological nature of biblical records caused some 19th-century biblical scholars to doubt his historical existence. Others, interpreting the available sources in a variety of ways, produced biographies of Jesus in which his life was purged of all supernatural elements. Today, scholars generally agree that Jesus was a historical figure whose existence is authenticated both by Christian writers and by several Roman and Jewish historians.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jesus of Nazareth (7–2 BC/BCE – 26–36 AD/CE), also known as Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity and is worshipped by most Christian churches as the Son of God and as God incarnate. Christians also view him as the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament; Judaism rejects this claim. Islam considers Jesus a prophet, while several other religions revere him in some way.
The principal sources of information regarding Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels, especially the Synoptic Gospels, though some scholars argue that other texts (such as the Gospel of Thomas) are as relevant as the canonical gospels to the historical Jesus. Most critical scholars in the fields of history and biblical studies believe that some parts of the ancient texts on Jesus are useful for reconstructing his life, agreeing that Jesus was a Jew who was regarded as a teacher and healer. They also generally accept that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire. Aside from these few conclusions, academic studies remain inconclusive about the chronology, the central message of Jesus' preaching, his social class, cultural environment, and religious orientation. Scholars offer competing descriptions of Jesus as the awaited Messiah, as a self-described Messiah, as the leader of an apocalyptic movement, as an itinerant sage, as a charismatic healer, and as the founder of an independent religious movement.
Christian views of Jesus (see also Christology) center on the belief that Jesus is divine, is the Messiah whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament, and that he was resurrected after his crucifixion. Christians predominantly believe that Jesus is the "Son of God" (generally meaning that he is God the Son, the second person in the Trinity), who came to provide salvation and reconciliation with God by his death for their sins. Other Christian beliefs include Jesus' virgin birth, performance of miracles, ascension into Heaven, and a future Second Coming. While the doctrine of the Trinity is widely accepted by Christians, a small minority instead hold various nontrinitarian beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus.
In Islam, Jesus (Arabic: عيسى, commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of God's important prophets, a bringer of scripture, and a worker of miracles. Jesus is also called "Messiah", but Islam does not teach that he was divine. Islam teaches that Jesus ascended bodily to heaven, rather than the traditional Christian belief of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Son of God
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Son of God is a phrase found in the Hebrew Bible, various other Jewish texts and the Christian Bible. In the holy Hebrew scriptures, according to Jewish religious tradition, Son of God has many possible meanings, referring to angels, or humans or even all mankind. According to most Christian traditions, it refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, see also God the Son.
While Son of God is most widely related to Christian New Testament concepts, similar terminology was present, before, during and after the Apostolic Age, in the Gentile and Jewish cultural and historical background of Jesus: while in the Greek and Roman polytheistic culture rulers and heroes were called sons of Zeus or Poseidon or Apollo or some other god among many, Christians consider Jesus to be the unigenitus Dei Filius (lat. "only-begotten Son of God"), of the only God there is, and regard themselves as monotheists. In Judaism the term "son of God" was sometimes used of the expected Jewish mashiach figure.
In Greek mythology, Heracles and many other figures, human and divine, were considered to be sons of gods such as Zeus, their highest god, and Zeus himself was represented as one of the sons of another god.
The Roman emperor Augustus was called "divi filius" (son of the deified Julius Caesar): "Divi filius", not "Dei filius" (son of God), was the Latin term used. In Greek, the term huios theou was applied to both, but, while huios theou is used of Jesus three times in the New Testament, he is usually described as ho huios tou theou, not just "a son of God", but "the son of God".
Historians believe Alexander the Great implied he was a demigod by actively using the title "Son of Ammon–Zeus". (His mother Olympias was said to have declared that Zeus impregnated her while she slept under an oak tree sacred to the god.) The title was bestowed upon him by Egyptian priests of the god Ammon at the Oracle of the god at the Siwah oasis in the Libyan Desert The title was also used of wonder-workers.
In the Hebrew Bible, the phrase "son(s) of God" has various meanings: there are a number of later interpretations. Our translation most likely comes from the Septuagint, which uses the phrase "Uioi Tou Theou", "Sons of God", to translate it.
In the Jewish literature that was not finally accepted as part of the Hebrew Bible, but that many Christians do accept as Scripture (see Deuterocanonical books), there are passages in which the title "son of God" is given to the anointed person or Mashiach (see Enoch, 55:2; IV Esdras 7:28-29; 13:32, 37, 52; 14:9). The title belongs also to any one whose piety has placed him in a filial relation to God (see Wisdom 2:13, 16, 18; 5:5, where "the sons of God" are identical with "the saints"; comp. Ecclesiasticus [Sirach] iv. 10).
In the Jewish interpretation of the Gospels, the being of Jesus as "son of God" corresponds to the typical Hasid from Galilee, a "pious" holy man that by divine intervention performs miracles and exorcisms,.
"Son of God" according to the Christian Bible
Throughout the New Testament (see "New Testament passages", below) the phrase "son of God" is applied repeatedly, in the singular, only to Jesus. "Sons of God" is applied to others only in the plural. The New Testament calls Jesus God's "only begotten son" (John 1:14, 3:16 3:18, 1 John 4:9), "his own son" (Romans 8:3). It also refers to Jesus simply as "the son" in contexts in which "the Father" is used to refer to God the Father.
Jesus as divine
In mainstream Christianity the title of Son of God is used to describe Jesus as a divine being and a member of the Trinity. This is expressed, for instance, in the Nicene Creed, which refers to Jesus as God's only Son, true God from true God, who took human form in the flesh. This view interprets the New Testament as referring to or implying the deity of Jesus in, for example, Hebrews 1:8, which quotes Psalm 45:6 as addressing him as God, and in John 8:58, where Jesus states, "Before Abraham was, I am", seen in this view as referencing God's name "I am", revealed in Exodus 3:14. Also in John 5:18, John writes "but he [Jesus] was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God".
Jesus as godly
Another view is that, in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus styled himself the Son of God in the same sense as a righteous person was sometimes referred to as a son or child of God (though not the son of God), as in Wisdom 2:18. Since New Testament books present Jesus as without sin, those who hold the first view, that of Jesus as divine, can hold this view too, but not as an exclusive interpretation.
Christians as children of God
In the Gospel of John, the author writes that "to all who believed him and accepted him [Jesus], he gave the right to become children of God" [John 1:12]. The phrase "children of God" is used ten times in the New Testament. To these can be added the five times, mentioned above, in which the New Testament speaks of "sons of God". The New Testament speaks of no individual Christian as it speaks of Jesus, as the son of God, not just a son of God.
Chronology of Jesus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Chronology of Jesus depicts the attempt to establish a historical chronology for the events of the life of Jesus depicted in the four canonical gospels (which allude to various contradictory dates for several events). Relating those externally known events to the chronology in the gospels themselves produces the following reconstructed chronology.
When correlated with external secular sources, the accounts of the four canonical gospels describe something like the following outline:
The chronology of Jesus is linked to a number of Jewish festivals. There are numerous references to specific times, people, and places in the four canonical gospels, but only a few tie events to a specific year, leaving exact timing uncertain and perhaps impossible to ascertain definitively. For example, the specific years of Jesus's birth, and death are not known. Some events and dates given can be cross-referenced to other sources, such as the tenure of rulers and high priests. The gospels do, however, provide clear references to specific days of the year associated with the yearly Jewish festivals, and provide much evidence to build upon.
In brief, the primary events in Jesus' life are believed to have occurred around these times:
Year of birth
Our only sources of information on Jesus' birth are the gospels of Matthew and Luke of the Bible, which provide two different accounts of the nativity. Matthew describes the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem, when Jesus has already been born. Subsequently, King Herod orders the "Massacre of the Innocents" — the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under; the family of Jesus flee to Egypt and return after Herod's death while Jesus is still a child. This implies that Jesus could have been up to two years old by the time of the massacre, which would have taken place some time, perhaps some years, before the death of Herod in 4 BCE.
Luke on the other hand relates the birth to the Census of Quirinius which took place in 6 CE, although also implying that the conception took place during the reign of King Herod.
Numerous commentators have attempted to establish the date of birth identify the Star of Bethlehem with some known astronomical or astrological phenomenon. There are, however, too many possible phenomena to single out one of them with certainty, and none seems to match the Gospel account exactly. Raymond E. Brown, having studied the various astronomical explanations, concluded: "no astronomical record exists of what is described in Matthew". Many scholars regard the star as a literary invention of the author of the Gospel of Matthew, to claim fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy (Numbers 24:17)..
Because both Gospel accounts seem to assume that the birth took place some time before the death of Herod, most historians assume that Jesus was probably born around 4 BCE or slightly before.
In the 6th century, Dionysius Exiguus made the birth date of Jesus the basis for his chart of Easter dates. Dionysius' labeled the years since Jesus' birth Anno Domini (meaning "in the year of the Lord" in Latin), which is now abbreviated "AD". Later the abbreviation "BC", which stands for Before Christ was added. Dionysius' estimate is generally thought to be inaccurate; "although scholars generally believe that Christ was born some years before AD 1, the historical evidence is too sketchy to allow a definitive dating".
Day of birth
Determining the exact day of Jesus' birth is even more problematic than the year. Some say that the birth could not have happened in the deep winter, because the Bible says that shepherds spent the night outdoors with their flocks when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8). 
Mediterranean climates such as Judea's have mild winters reaching their coolest in late February.  Thus December nights can be quite balmy and warm enough to graze sheep. Moreover, December/January would have been an ideal time to graze sheep to take advantage of the winter rains. During the hot months, conditions can be quite barren and the grasses dry. But the end of December was the time when the perennial grasses began to turn green again and the annual grasses had sprouted anew. Thus, climatically the ecclesiastical practice of placing Christ's birth between December 25 and January 6 is possible. Controversy over whether Christmas ought to be celebrated on December 25 or January 6 underscores the perceived importance of the day of Christ's birth and the determination of church fathers to be accurate.
It is believed that Christmas' date was chosen to take advantage of the imperial holiday of the birth of the Sun God Mithras, more specifically Sol Invictus, which coincided with the "return of the sun" after the shortest day of the year. According to this theory, the reason was to replace the popular pagan holiday with a Christian celebration of holy communion. For example, the Catholic Encyclopedia states: "Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date."
Kislev 25, 3757 AM is reported in error as the Julian date of November 25, 5 BCE, not December 25, 5 BCE. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE the Jews of the Diaspora used a rule-based calendar of the Pharisees to calculate dates, this being formalized into the present fixed calendar by Maimonides in 1178 CE. Extending this calendar back to 5 BCE does not adjust for the precession of the equinoxes, and this gives dates too early according to the Vernal Equinox and beginning of spring.
Extending the present fixed calendar back to Nisan 1, 3756 AM, which precedes the birth of Jesus and yields the bogus November 25, 5 BCE date, is March 9, 5 BCE. This is too early before the equinox and is actually Adar II. Nisan 1 shifted a month and actually began on April 6, 5 BCE.
By contrast, in today’s 19-year metonic cycle Jewish calendar, the earliest that Nisan 1 appears is on March 12 in 2016 CE. This date is by the Gregorian calendar, which has adjusted for the precession of the equinoxes. If the new moon was observed as early as March 9 it would have been Adar II, additionally declared that month because of the premature state of the corn crop and fruit trees (Sanhedrin 2:2)
Early Christians sought to calculate the date of Christ's birth based on the idea that Old Testament prophets died either on an anniversary of their birth or of their conception. They reasoned that Jesus died on an anniversary of his conception, so the date of his birth was nine months after the date of Good Friday, either December 25 or January 6.
At least as early as 354 CE, Jesus' birth was celebrated on December 25 in Rome, according to Chronography of 354. Other cities had other traditional dates. The history of Christmas is closely associated with that of the Epiphany. If the currently prevailing opinion about the compilation of the gospels is accepted, the earliest body of gospel tradition, represented by Mark no less than by the primitive non-Marcan document (Q document) embodied in the first and third gospels, begins, not with the birth and childhood of Jesus, but with His baptism; and this order of accretion of gospel matter is faithfully reflected in the time order of the invention-of feasts. The church in general adopted Christmas much later than Epiphany, and before the 5th century there was no consensus as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on January 6 or December 25.
The earliest identification of 25 December with the birthday of Jesus is in a passage, otherwise unknown and probably spurious, of Theophilus of Antioch (171-183), preserved in Latin by the Magdeburg centuriators, to the effect that the Gauls contended that as they celebrated the birth of the Lord on the December 25, whatever day of the week it might be, so they ought to celebrate Easter on 25 March when the resurrection occurred.
The next surviving mention of December 25 is in Hippolytus' (c. 202) commentary on Daniel. Jesus, he says, was born at Bethlehem on December 25, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of Augustus. This passage also is almost certainly interpolated. In any case he mentions no feast, nor was such a feast congruous with the orthodox ideas of that age. As late as 245, Origen, in his eighth homily on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Jesus "as if he were a king Pharaoh." Thus it was important to the early Christians not to have indecorous parties on that day, but to keep it a time of devotion, reflection, and communion.
The first early mention of December 25 is in a Latin chronographer of 354 CE, first published in complete form by Mommsen. It runs thus in English: "Year I after Christ, in the consulate of Augustus Caesar and Paulus, the Lord Jesus Christ was born on 25 December, a Friday and 15th day of the new moon." Here again no festal celebration of the day is attested.
Another argument , that relies only on dates named in the Bible, places Jesus' birth on the 15th day of the seventh Jewish month during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. This is based on the time when Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, was ministering in the temple and received an announcement from God of Zechariah fathering a son. The Bible states that Zechariah's term of ministry was in the "eighth course of Abia", a period dated according to Hebrew calendar in the Old Testament. If John was conceived soon after, and Jesus' conception was six months after John’s, then Jesus could have been born about the first day of the feast of the tabernacles (shelters/bivouacs). There is an engimatic reference in the Gospel of John that introduces Jesus in this manner: "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (KJV). The word used for "dwelt" means "tabernacled/camped/bivouacked" - i.e. God's Word became flesh and bivouacked among us.
There were many speculations in the 2nd century about the date of Jesus' birth. Clement of Alexandria, towards its close, mentions several such, and condemns them as superstitions. Some chronologists, he says, alleged the birth to have occurred in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus, on the 25th of Pachon, the Egyptian month (May 20). These were probably the Basilideans. Others set it on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi (19th or 20 April). Clement himself sets it on November 17, 3 BCE
The same symbolic reasoning led Polycarp (before 160) to set his birth on Sunday, when the world's creation began, but his baptism on Wednesday, for it was the analogue of the sun's creation. On such grounds certain Latins as early as 354 may have transferred the human birthday from January 6 to December 25 and is by the chronographer above referred to, but in another part of his compilation, termed Natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered Sun. (Under the Julian Calendar, the winter solstice occurs on December 24, so starting with December 25, the days begin to get longer again.) Cyprian invokes Christus Sol verus, Ambrose Sol novus noster, and such rhetoric was widespread. The Syrians and Armenians, who clung to January 6, accused the Romans of sun-worship and idolatry, contending with great probability that the feast of 25 December had been invented by disciples of Cerinthus and its readings by Artemon to commemorate the natural birth of Jesus. Ambrose, On Virgins, writing to his sister, implies that as late as the papacy of Liberius 352 - 356, the Birth from the Virgin was feasted together with the Marriage of Cana and the Feeding of the 4000, which were never celebrated on any other day but January 6.
Chrysostom, in a sermon preached at Antioch on December 20, 386 or 388, says that some held the feast of December 25 to have been held in the West, from Thrace as far as Cádiz, from the beginning. It certainly originated in the West, but spread quickly eastwards. In 353 - 361 it was observed at the court of Constantius II. Basil of Caesarea (died 379) adopted it. Honorius, emperor (395 - 423) in the West, informed his mother and brother Arcadius (395 - 408) in Byzantium of how the new feast was kept in Rome, separate from January 6, with its own troparia and sticharia. They adopted it, and recommended it to Chrysostom, who had long been in favour of it. Epiphanius of Crete was won over to it, as were also the other three patriarchs, Theophilus of Alexandria, John II of Jerusalem, Flavian I of Antioch. This was under Pope Anastasius I, 398 - 400.
John or Wahan of Nice, in a letter printed by François Combefis in his Historia monoizeii tarurn, affords the above details. The new feast was communicated by Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople (434 - 446), to Sahak, Catholicos of Armenia, about 440. The letter was betrayed to the Persian king, who accused Sahak of Greek intrigues, and deposed him. However, the Armenians, at least those within the Byzantine pale, adopted it for about thirty years, but finally abandoned it together with the decrees of Chalcedon early in the 8th century. Many writers of the period 375 - 450, e.g. Epiphanius, Cassian, Asterius, Basil, Chrysostom and Jerome, contrast the new feast with that of the Baptism as that of the birth after the flesh, from which we infer that the latter was generally regarded as a birth according to the Spirit. Instructive as showing that the new feast travelled from West eastwards is the fact (noticed by Usener) that in 387 the new feast was reckoned according to the Julian calendar by writers of the province of Asia, who in referring to other feasts use the reckoning of their local calendars. As early as 400 in Rome an imperial rescript includes Christmas among the three feasts (the others are Easter and Epiphany) on which theatres must be closed.
Start of Ministry
According to the gospel of Luke (Luke 3:1-2), John the Baptist started his ministry in the "15th year of Tiberius". This is one of the few events in the New Testament for which any clear indication of the year of occurrence is given. Tiberius was emperor of Rome from 14 to 37 CE. All gospel accounts have Jesus beginning his own ministry after John had begun his. Accordingly, the earliest year either John or Jesus could have begun his own ministry would be, if Luke is accurate, the year 29 CE. However, one source, Tertullian (died 230), in Adversus Marcionem xv, expresses a Roman tradition that placed the crucifixion in the twelfth year of Tiberius Caesar, lending support for an earlier date of 26 CE. Josephus implies that Herod Antipas had John the Baptist put to death around 32 CE.
Death & Day of death
Tradition holds that the Last Supper took place on the first night of Passover, which is defined in the Torah as occurring after the day of the 14th of Nisan (Lev 23:5-6). In the Biblical calendar, a new day begins after sunset, rather than at midnight as in the modern western calendar. However, in order to determine the Gregorian date of Jesus' death, one needs to know the year, because the 15th of Nisan – corresponding to one of the first two full moons after Vernal Equinox – can occur on any date in late March or April in the western calendar.
All Gospels agree that Jesus died and was taken off the cross on the day before the Jewish sabbath (Friday before sunset), around the time of Passover, (the Jewish calendar counts the day as beginning with the evening). However, before the year 500, the calendar was changed yearly to align with astronomical observations. Therefore, it is not possible to state on which day of the week the 14 of Nisan occurred for any year before 500 without historical documents that attest to a particular day of the week.
More precise calculation of Jesus' date of death is complicated by apparent inconsistencies in the reports in the Synoptic Gospels as compared to the Gospel of John. In the Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper is generally interpreted to be the Passover meal. In this case Passover would have started on Thursday night. This is highly problematic from a historical standpoint — the first day of Passover is a holy day for Jews, during which no work can be performed and many rituals of Shabbat are observed, so many events described by the Gospels (particularly, the trial and the execution) could not have taken place.
According to John, however, the Passover meal was to be eaten on the last evening before Jesus was crucified, so that the Last Supper was eaten on the evening of the 14th of Nisan and the crucifixion was on the 14th during the following daylight, with Jesus dying approximately at the same time that the lambs for the Passover were being slaughtered in Herod's Temple of Jerusalem — around 3 PM ("at the ninth hour"), so that the Jews could celebrate the Passover that evening (starting Friday night).
According to Orthodox theology, the Last Supper celebrated on Thursday evening was not the Jewish Passover meal[reference required].
Year of death
One of the facts considered by historians to be practically beyond dispute is that Jesus was executed on the orders of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. Pilate held this position from 26–36 CE, during which the only years in which Nisan 14 fell on a Friday were 27 CE, 33 CE, 36 CE, and possibly also 30 CE (depending on when the new moon would have been visible in Jerusalem). Different scholars have defended all of these dates. Maximus Monachus, Eusebius, and Cassiodorus recorded the death of Jesus in 31 CE. The 3rd/4th century Roman historian Lactantius states that Jesus was crucified on 11 April 29 CE.
The most commonly cited dates are 7 April 30 CE and 3 April 33 CE. In the Gospel of Luke, it is stated that Jesus was "about 30 years old"  when he was baptised by John the Baptist. However, if Jesus' birth was in 6 BCE, this would imply that he began preaching around 24 CE.
Another fact to be considered is Luke's statement that John the Baptist's ministry began in the fifteenth year of the reign of emperor Tiberius (Luke 3:1-2). Tiberius' reign began after Augustus' death on 19 August 14 CE, placing John's appearance in 28 or 29 CE by official Roman reckoning (counting August 14 CE to August 15 CE as the first year), too late for the beginning of Jesus's ministry as calculated above. On the other hand, Tertullian writes in his Adversus Marcionem of a Roman tradition that placed the crucifixion in the twelfth year of Tiberius' rule, i.e. 25 or 26 CE. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John points to three separate Passovers during Jesus' ministry, which would favour 33 CE.
Historicity of Jesus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The historicity of Jesus concerns the historical authenticity of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Scholars often draw a distinction between Jesus as reconstructed through historical methods and the Christ of faith as understood through theological tradition. The historical figure of Jesus is of central importance to various religions, but especially Christianity and Islam, in which the historical details of Jesus’ life are essential.
With few exceptions (such as Robert M. Price), scholars in the fields of biblical studies and history agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion.
The four canonical Gospels (most commonly estimated to have been written between 65 and 110 A.D) and the writings of Paul of the New Testament are among the earliest known documents relating to Jesus' life. Some scholars also hypothesize the existence of earlier texts such as the Signs Gospel and the Q document. There are arguments that parts of the Gospel of Thomas are likewise early texts.
Scholarly opinions on the historicity of the New Testament accounts are diverse. At the extremes, they range from the view that they are inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus, to the view that they provide no historical information about his life. The sources extant contain little evidence of Jesus' life before the account of Jesus' Baptism, and it has been suggested by many  that the events recorded in the gospels cover a period of less than three years. Historians subject the gospels to critical analysis, differentiating authentic, reliable information from inventions, exaggerations, and alterations.
History of research
Attempts to use historical rather than religious methods to construct a verifiable biography of Jesus began in the 18th century with Hermann Samuel Reimarus, up to William Wrede and Albert Schweitzer in the 19th century Reimarus pioneered "the search for the historical Jesus", applying the Rationalism of the Enlightenment Era to claims about Jesus. Although Schweitzer was among the greatest contributors to this quest, he also ended it by noting how each scholar's version of Jesus seemed little more than an idealized autobiography of the scholar himself.
A later generation of scholars emphasized the "constraints of history", so that despite uncertainties there were historical data that were usable. Yet another generation tended to focus on the early textual layers of the New Testament for data to reconstruct a biography for the historical Jesus. Many of these scholars rely on a redactive critique of the hypothetical Q Gospel and on a Greco-Roman "Mediterranean" milieu as opposed to a Jewish milieu and tend to view Jesus as a radical philosopher of Wisdom literature. Jesus is featured throughout the New Testament and other Early Christian writings, as can be seen in such works as the Gospels, the Pauline Epistles, the book of Acts, the writings of the early Church Fathers, and the New Testament apocrypha.
Jesus is featured throughout the New Testament and other Early Christian writings, such as the Gospels, the Pauline Epistles, the book of Acts, the writings of the early Church Fathers, and the New Testament apocrypha.
The most detailed accounts of the life of Jesus in the Bible are the four canonical Gospels: the Gospel of Matthew; the Gospel of Mark; the Gospel of Luke; and the Gospel of John. These Gospels are narrative accounts of part of the life of Jesus. They concentrate on his ministry, and conclude with his death and resurrection. The extent to which these sources are interrelated, or used related source material, is known as the synoptic problem. The date, authorship, access to eyewitnesses, and other essential questions of historicity depend on the various solutions to this problem.
The four canonical Gospels are anonymous. The introduction to Luke mentions accounts of what was handed down by eyewitnesses, and claims to have "diligently investigated all things from the beginning". The epilogue to John states that "these things" are testified to by the beloved disciple, whose "testimony we know ... is true". The authors in antiquity who discussed the authorship of the Gospels generally asserted the following: Matthew was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve apostles of Jesus; Mark was written by Mark, a disciple of Simon Peter, who was one of the Twelve; Luke was written by Luke, who was a disciple of Paul, who was the Apostle to the Gentiles; John was written by John, who was one of the Twelve. In addition, the book of the Acts of the Apostles has traditionally been attributed to Luke.
The first three Gospels, known as the synoptic gospels, share much material. As a result of various scholarly hypotheses attempting to explain this interdependence, the traditional association of the texts with their authors has become the subject of criticism. Though some solutions retain the traditional authorship, other solutions reject some or all of these claims. The solution most commonly held in academia today is the two-source hypothesis, which posits that Mark and a hypothetical 2nd source, called the Q document, were used as sources for Matthew and Luke. Other solutions, such as the Augustinian hypothesis and Griesbach hypothesis, posit that Matthew was written first and that Mark was an epitome. Scholars who accept the two-source hypothesis generally date Mark to around 70, with Matthew and Luke dating to 80-90. Scholars who accept Matthean priority usually date the synoptic gospels to before 70, with some arguing as early as 40. John is most often dated to 90-100, though a date as early as the 60s, and as late as the second century have been argued by a few.
Mainstream scholars hold that the authors wrote with certain motivations and a view to a particular community and its needs. They regard it as virtually certain the authors relied on various sources, including their own knowledge and the testimony of eyewitnesses. The later authors did not write in ignorance of some texts that preceded them, as is claimed explicitly by the author of Luke.
The extent to which the Gospels were subject to additions, redactions, or interpolations is the subject of textual criticism, which examines the extent to which a manuscript changed from its autograph, or the work as written by the original author, through manuscript transmission. Possible alterations in the Gospels include: Mark 16:8-20, Luke 22:19b–20,43–44, John 7:53-8:11.
Other issues with the historicity of the Gospels include possible conflicts with each other, or with other historical sources. The most frequent suggestions of conflict relate to the Census of Quirinius as recounted in Luke, the two genealogies contained in Luke and Matthew, and the chronology of the Easter events.
Jesus is also the subject of the writings of Paul of Tarsus, a Hellenistic Jew who presented himself as Jesus' "Apostle to the Gentiles" and who dictated letters to various churches and individuals from c. 48-68. There are traditionally fourteen letters attributed to Paul, thirteen of which claim to be written by Paul, with one anonymous letter. Current scholarship is in a general consensus in considering at least seven of the letters to be authored by Paul, with views varying concerning the remaining works. Paul seems to nowhere report his own eyewitness account of Jesus' life, but did claim knowledge of Jesus through visions (Gal 1:11-12 and 1 Cor 11:23). He met some of those described as Apostles of Jesus in the Gospels referring to them as Apostles (Gal 1:18–20, and 1 Cor 9:5). In his letters, Paul often refers to commands of Jesus or events in his life that seem consistent with the Gospel accounts. Paul in many places and in a combative way relates other preachers' differing view of Jesus, suggesting that even as early as 20 years after his crucifixion Jesus was a very strong interest of Jewish moral teachers preaching to Gentiles.
In his First Epistle to the Thessalonians Paul writes in chapter 2:14-15, referring to his fellow Jews, that they "...killed the Lord Jesus..." (though we should note that the authenticity of this passage has been doubted by some.). He also refers to the "Lord's own word" in chapter 4:15 discussing the future coming of the Lord.
In his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul writes that after God "revealed his Son in" him (Gal 1), he did not discuss it with those who had been Apostles before him, but traveled to Arabia then back to Damascus. It was three years later that he went to Jerusalem where he saw the Apostle Cephas/Peter, and James, "the Lord's brother" (or "the brother of the Lord", αδελΦος του κυρίоς 1:18–20), believed by many to be James the Just. Paul some years later had a meeting with Peter, James, and John, the Council of Jerusalem (circa AD 51).
In Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians he says in chapter 2:8 that the "... rulers of this age ... crucified the Lord of glory ...". In 7:10-11 he gives what he says are commands of "the Lord" regarding divorce. In 9:5 he refers to "the Lord's brothers" (or "the brethren of the Lord", αδελφοι του κυριου) and refers to what "the Lord has commanded" in 9:14. Paul gives a description of the Last Supper in 11:23-26, which he says he received from "the Lord". In 15:3-8, he talks of the death and resurrection of Christ and witnesses to resurrection appearances, including Peter, whom he knew.
In his letter to the Philippians, 2:5-11 Paul writes that Christ Jesus had the form of God, and speaks of his "appearance as a man" and his "human likeness". In his letter to the Romans, 1:1-4, Paul describes "Christ Jesus", as the "Son of God" and says that Christ Jesus was from the seed of David, "according to the flesh". He says that he was a minister to the Jews in Romans 15:8.
The Acts of the Apostles
The book of the Acts of the Apostles, written at least twenty but probably thirty or forty years after Galatians, gives a more detailed account of the Council of Jerusalem in chapter 15. Acts also claims Jesus' family , including his mother, were members of the early church (1:12-14).
The authors whose works are contained in the New Testament sometimes quote from creeds, or confessions of faith, that obviously predate their writings. Scholars suppose that some of these creeds date to within a few years of Jesus' death, and were developed within the Christian community in Jerusalem. Though embedded within the texts of the New Testament, these creeds are a distinct source for early Christianity.
1Corinthians 15:3-4 reads: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." This contains a Christian creed of pre-Pauline origin. The antiquity of the creed has been located by many Biblical scholars to less than a decade after Jesus' death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. Concerning this creed, Campenhausen wrote, "This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text," whilst A. M. Hunter said, "The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability."
Other relevant creeds which predate the texts wherein they are found that have been identified are 1John 4:2: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God", 2Timothy 2:8: "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, this is my Gospel", Romans 1:3-4: "regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.", and 1Timothy 3:16: "He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory," an early creedal hymn.
New Testament apocrypha
Jesus is a large factor in New Testament apocrypha, works excluded from the canon as it developed because they were judged not to be inspired. These texts are almost entirely dated to the mid second century or later, though a few texts, such as the Didache, may be first century in origin. Some of these works are discussed below:
The Gnostics' opinion of Jesus was docetic, in all cases treating him as someone to allegorically attribute gnostic teachings to, his resurrection being regarded an allegory for enlightenment, in which all can take part. Nonetheless, certain Gnostic texts mention Jesus in the context of his earthly existence, and some scholars have argued that Gnostic texts could contain plausible traditions. Examples of such texts include the Gospel of Truth, Treatise on Resurrection, and the Apocryphon of John, the latter of which opens with the following:
Of all the Gnostic texts, however, the Gospel of Thomas had drawn the most attention. It contains a list of sayings attributed to Jesus. It lacks a narrative of Jesus treating his deeds in a historical sense. The majority of scholars date it to the early-mid second century, while a minority view contends for an early date of perhaps 50, citing a relationship to the hypothetical Q document among other reasons.
Early Church fathers
Early Christian sources outside the New Testament also mention Jesus and details of his life. Important texts from the Apostolic Fathers are, to name just the most significant and ancient, Clement of Rome (c. 100), Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107-110), and Justin Martyr.
Perhaps the most significant Patristic sources are the early references of Papias and Quadratus (d. 124), mostly reported by Eusebius in the fourth century, which both mention eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry and healings who were still alive in their own time (the late first century). Papias, in giving his sources for the information contained in his (largely lost) commentaries, stated (according to Eusebius):
Thus, while Papias was collecting his information (c. 90), Aristion and the elder John (who were Jesus’ disciples) were still alive and teaching in Asia minor, and Papias gathered information from people who had known them. Another Father, Quadratus, who wrote an apology to the emperor Hadrian, was reported by Eusebius to have stated:
By “our Savior” Quadratus means Jesus, and by “our times” it has been argued that he may refer to his early life, rather than when he wrote (117-124), which would be a reference contemporary with Papias.
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